Just Another
Hero

Shopping Cart
Just Another Hero
Hardcover   $17.99
Paperback   $6.99
Type:
Quantity: 


View Cart
Back to Books

Intro, Summary & General Questions

Summary:
Arielle Gresham, disliked and mistrusted by most of the students at her school, has a secret past, an unbelievably complicated present, and a shaky future. But no one knows or cares because she has managed to alienate anyone who could help her. She tries to cope with problems at school, but difficulties at home almost break her spirit. As the school tries to deal with an outbreak of false fire alarms, a series of thefts, a student addicted to prescriptions drugs, and another who is a victim on vicious online bullying, Arielle finds that outward appearances are seldom what they seem to be.

A hero is needed--maybe several heroes to solve the various problems that emerge. What makes a hero? Perhaps we find out as the novel builds to a powerful, explosive conclusion.

FAQ

1. What made you decide to create the Jericho trilogy?


Lots of readers wrote to me and asked what happened to Jericho, to the remaining members of the Warriors of Distinction, and to the girls in their lives. I decided to continue the story in November Blues by focusing on November, Josh's girlfriend, as well as Jericho, who was also traumatized by the tragedy in the first book. Jericho chooses football as a means of dealing with his grief. November is forced to make choices as well, many she had not planned on. In Book three, Just another Hero, the story continues.

2. Which characters are the focus of Just another Hero, and what challenges do they face?


November has returned to school, Eddie has been released from the detention center, Kofi is battling an addiction, and Arielle tries to find her place in spite of severe problems at home. Olivia and Jericho are still together, but Arielle might try to regain her place in his life. Dana remains strong and fiercely supportive of Kofi, whose parents are not always there for him.

3. Are any new characters introduced in Just Another Hero?


Osrick Wardley, slight of build, shy, intelligent and observant, is easily bullied and his problems build with the tensions of the story. And Jack Crasinski, also known as Crazy Jack, seems to be going over the top with unusual behavior and outbursts. He plays his drums in the hall every day—searching for the noise as well as attention. Teachers, of course, also play an important role in the lives of the characters. From a thin woman who makes her students do a dance to learn the periodic chart of the elements, to one who uses all the modern technology from computers to zip drives, their struggles become entwined with the struggles of their students.

4. Are your characters based on real people?


No, all of the characters are my own creations. I made them up. Sometimes fictional characters can seem so real that the reader might think they are real people, because good fiction is based on reality, but the characters in my books are just that--fictional. I start with a character who grows and develops as the book progresses, so that even to me he or she seems real by the end of the story. But they only exist in the pages of the book. I even get letters from students who think the characters are real. One girl asked for Arielle’s home phone number--honest.

5. Your novels often deal with controversial issues such as teen hazing in The Battle of Jericho, teen pregnancy in November Blues, and school violence in Just Another Hero. Why is it important to you to bring attention to these issues through your writing?


Teenagers live in a stressful and confusing world and face difficult decisions every day. School violence seems to be on the rise—we see it in tragic news accounts all too often. Instead of avoiding issues they must deal with, I choose to address the problems they might encounter though fictional characters and situations. I try to deal with topics that are both meaningful and significant. I also hope that by reading my stories, young people can perhaps apply some of the messages to their own lives. I get emails every single day from young people who thank me for writing about subjects that touch their lives. I try not to preach--I just put the problems in the lives of characters and see what happens when they make decisions.

6. In Just Another Hero, why did you decide to focus on Arielle, probably the most hated character in the first two books?


Everyone has a back story—a reason for why they act as they do, or respond to situations in a certain way. Arielle has survived the loss of her father, three stepfathers, and the loss of her little sister to an institution. Her home life, although it looks luxurious and rich from the outside, is unhappy, tightly controlled and full of fear. Arielle grows through the story, moving from being self-centered and shallow to understanding and grateful for friendships.

7. You have won the prestigious Coretta Scott King literary award for five or your books, plus many other literary honors. In addition you have been honored at the White House on six different occasions, including twice at the National Book Festival. What were those experiences like and what do these awards mean to you?


Award ceremonies are thrilling and the honors are tremendous. I'm blessed to be chosen to receive them. No two days are ever the same in my life--it's a wonderful rollercoaster. But my real reward comes in letters from young readers, and from teachers and librarians who tell me that my books make a difference in their lives. That's true honor. Of course, I would love to be invited to the Obama White House one day.

8. How has being a teacher affected your writing style and the genres you choose to write?


I think because I was a teacher of adolescents for so long that I have a feel for the pulse of the teen audience. I believe in them, I respect them, and I admire them. And I think they know that. They trust me to write for them and tell their stories, and they tell me they eagerly await the next book.

9. What would you like your young readers to get out of reading Just Another Hero?


I want them to think about violence, and about what the actions of just one person can trigger. I also want them to remember that everybody has a “back story,” a part of their life that might be hidden, but influences how they function in school. We all have problems. Sometimes those overlap into school situations.

10. What does Just Another Hero say about heroism?


The book offers lots of questions that are open to discussion. What is a hero? Who can be a hero? Does a hero always look like those in literature, like Beowulf, for example? Or can the hero be small and seemingly insignificant? Can the bad guy be the hero? Can a girl be a hero? What makes a person rise to heroic levels? The end of the story leaves the answer open. “Arielle slowed to listen to the reporter. ‘So what makes a hero, and who is the hero of the day?’ the woman was asking the audience on the other side of the camera she faced. Arielle breathed deeply of the spring air that promised flowers as well as rain. She ducked under a ribbon of crime scene tape, sprinted toward the parking lot, then whispered the answer to the reporter’s question into the soft breeze.”

The Jericho Trilogy


The Battle of Jericho

November Blues

Just Another Hero

Shopping Cart
Just Another Hero
Hardcover   $17.99
Paperback   $6.99
Type:
Quantity: 


View Cart
Back to Books

Reviews & Rewards

Reviews:
KIRKUS
Draper presents the conclusion to the trilogy that began with The Battle of Jericho (2003) and November Blues (2007), both Coretta Scott King Honor books. It is senior year, and Arielle and Kofi take center stage. Arielle is coping with issues at home and school. Her mother's new husband imposes rigid controls, and in addition, she has not always been a good friend to the girls in their circle so she worries about being accepted. Kofi, a brilliant science student, battles a secret addiction to prescription drugs as he frets about paying for college. A rash of burglaries at school casts suspicion on various individuals. But a crisis from an unlikely source explodes on the scene, and the school community works together to try to stop impending tragedy. The well-rounded characters are resilient African-American teens going through normal growing pains while navigating the realities of their communities. The texture and rhythm of contemporary life are woven throughout the narrative, enhancing its readability. Readers of urban fiction will enjoy this and receive a bit more in the bargain. (Fiction. 12 & up)

BOOKLIST
Issue: June 1, 2009
Draper, Sharon M. (Author)
Jun 2009. 288 p. Atheneum, hardcover, $16.99. (9781416907008).
This concluding volume in the trilogy that began with The Battle of Jericho (2003) and November Blues (2007), both Coretta Scott King Author Honor Books, continues the stories of a group of resilient urban high-school students. While familiar characters appear (November is back at school after giving birth to her baby), this stand-alone title focuses on friends who held a more peripheral place in the previous books.

Arielle struggles with her emotionally abusive stepfather, a control freak who ultimately leaves her and her mother homeless. M.I.T.-bound Kofi tries, with the support of his devoted girlfriend, to kick his growing dependency on OxyContin. Draper adds more drama at school: who is responsible for a rash of thefts? Is Eddie, recently returned from juvie, dangerous? Is outsider Osrick capable of violent revenge against the school bullies? The sheer number of issues threatens to overcrowd the story. But the dialogue-driven prose will propel even reluctant readers to the final shocking scenes, and teens will easily connect with Draper's intelligent, spirited, and unflaggingly supportive young people.
-Gillian Engberg

PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY
More trials are in store for the Ohio teens featured in Battle of Jericho and November Blues in this final book in Draper's trilogy. This time the focus is on Arielle-whose mother has recently married a wealthy, controlling man who treats his stepdaughter and wife more like property than family-and Kofi, a promising student whose chance for success is threatened by his prescription drug addiction. While fighting deeply personal battles during their senior year, Arielle and Kofi are drawn into school dramas concerning the inexplicable disappearance of student property as well as recurring fire drills, a prank that eventually leads to a deadly situation. As in her previous novels, Draper shows mastery in building suspense and articulating adolescent emotions and reactions ("Kofi could feel Dana tense up, in the same way some people reacted to a snake-with great fear and the need to put distance between themselves and the reptile"). If the shocking climax, which culminates with a school shooting, appears a little contrived, powerful final events will leave readers pondering the definition of heroism. Ages 12-up. (June)

Awards:
  • Awards have not yet been announced for this title

The Jericho Trilogy


The Battle of Jericho

November Blues

Just Another Hero

Shopping Cart
Just Another Hero
Hardcover   $17.99
Paperback   $6.99
Type:
Quantity: 


View Cart
Back to Books

Study Guides

Book 3 in the Jericho Trilogy

Summary:
Arielle Gresham, disliked and mistrusted by most of the students at her school, has a secret past, an unbelievably complicated present, and a shaky future. But no one knows or cares because she has managed to alienate anyone who could help her. She tries to cope with problems at school, but difficulties at home almost break her spirit.

As the school tries to deal with an outbreak of false fire alarms, a series of thefts, a student addicted to prescriptions drugs, and another who is a victim on vicious online bullying, Arielle finds that outward appearances are seldom what they seem to be.

A hero is needed--maybe several heroes to solve the various problems that emerge.

What makes a hero? We find out as the novel builds to a powerful, explosive conclusion.

Discussion Topics for JUST ANOTHER HERO


  1. The novel opens with a scene of violence--cruel mistreatment of a weaker student by a group of bullies. How does this help capture the reader's attention? What predictions can the reader make about Arielle and Osrick? Compare those predictions to what really happens at the end of the novel.

  2. Why doesn't Arielle report the abuse of Osrick? What would you have done in the same situation?

  3. Arielle seems to be a social outsider as well as Osrick, although she used to hang with all the popular kids in school. What had caused this? How did she feel about it? What do you think could be done about the situation?

  4. Describe Arielle's home life. Compare the outward luxury of her home with the inner tensions. How does she feel about her stepfather? How does she feel about her mother's relationship with Chad?

  5. Chad is exerts extreme control over Arielle and her mother. Do you consider him to be abusive? Where do you draw the line between control and abuse? Would you be willing to live in such a household if you were given a large allowance and a lovely home?

  6. How did Kofi get addicted to prescription pain pills? How realistic is his addiction? How does his home life contribute to his stress? Describe his relationship with his parents.

  7. Describe Mrs. Witherspoon. What makes her a great teacher?

  8. Why does the return of Eddie upset Dana? How does Kofi respond and why? What predictions can you make about Eddie, Kofi, and Dana?

  9. The school is plagued by someone who keeps pulling the fire alarm as well as a thief. What indications are given that the same person is responsible for both?

  10. Why is Arielle so upset about the theft of her iPhone? How does the loss of the phone help her re-gain some friendships?

  11. How is Eddie able to convince the younger boys that juvenile detention was pleasant? Why do you think they believed him? What is Kofi's response?

  12. Because of the damage to her car, Arielle's mother is devastated. What does this tell you about her relationship with her husband? Chad places Arielle's mom on punishment. Discuss your feelings about one adult placing another adult on punishment.

  13. Describe the relationship between Dana and Kofi. How does she react to his drug use, his college plans, and his family situation? What might have been Kofi's future without Dana in his life?

  14. How successful is November's re-integration into high school life? What difficulties and challenges does she face?

  15. Describe what Chad did to the house Arielle lived in. How did it make you feel? How does she react? How would you react to such a thing?

  16. As she adjusts to living in a homeless shelter, how has Arielle changed, both personally and socially, from the beginning of the book to this point?

  17. How is Osrick able to figure out who the thief is? How do he and Arielle work together? Why doesn't he trust her to tell her everything he knows?

  18. Describe the scene with the blue light. Who do you suspect to be the thief at the beginning of the scene? How surprising is it when the real thief is revealed? What connection do you predict between the thief and the person who is pulling the fire alarm?

  19. Describe the events upstairs in the classroom during the shooting and compare the events downstairs as people watch and worry and speculate. Why are both points of view necessary?

  20. Describe the heroic events in the final confrontation with Jack. Do you consider Eddie to be a hero? Explain why or why not. Can a negative character be considered a hero? Explain.


Activities and Research

  1. You are a reporter at one of the following scenes. Write the story for your newspaper.
    • The gunshots at Douglas High School
    • The arrest of a teacher at Douglas High School
    • The police and fire response as a result of school violence
    • The gathering of newspaper reporters and what they say during an emergency


  2. Investigate the problems of prescription drug abuse, especially among high school students. Find out statistics as well as possible solutions for help.
  3. Research current laws and punishments for pulling a fire alarm at school or bringing a gun to school.

  4. Research current treatment options for young people like Jack. What punishment might Jack receive considering his physical and mental state?

  5. The bullies make a video of their mistreatment of Osrick on a cell phone, which is later posted on a social networking site. Discuss the implications of these kinds of events, and the short-term, as well as long-range results. How does it affect the victim socially, emotionally, and personally? What effect, if any, do such things have on a school community?

  6. Write a letter to one of the characters in the book explaining your feelings about the events in the story. What advice would you give Arielle, Osrick or Kofi, or Jack?

  7. Describe the relationship between the friends in the book. Is friendship enough when situations become monumental and overwhelming to young people? Explain.

  8. Imagine it is six weeks after the end of the novel. Write a letter or create a conversation between one of the following pairs of characters:
    • Jericho to Olivia
    • Arielle to Brandon
    • Kofi to his parents
    • Arielle to Chad
    • Osrick to Arielle


  9. Trace the story of one of the following characters. Imagine you are a reporter doing a story on one of their lives. Write everything you know, as well as whatever you can infer about the character in order to write your magazine article.
    • Osrick
    • Olivia
    • Chad
    • Kofi
    • Jack


  10. Write a paper that discusses the effects of guns and violence in a high school setting. You might discuss causes, effects, and possible solutions. Show the results of the effects on students, but personally, socially, and academically.


WRITING ACTIVITIES

Read the quotes, then write the essay that follows.
  1. COMPARISON/CONTRAST PAPER

    (a) "Mrs. Witherspoon, a petite woman with curly blonde hair, boundless energy, and really cool tech toys in her classroom, greeted everybody as they came in. She seemed to know something about the lives of every single student. . . They were reading Beowulf, so Mrs. Witherspoon showed two video clips-one from the preview of the movie, and one from a cartoon about the monster, Grendel. Then she popped up a chart that talked about heroes and monsters and good versus evil, and brought up a website that told about Anglo-Saxon history-all in a twenty-minute span. Kofi loved the dazzle and techno-coolness of this class. Nobody ever went to sleep in Spoon's class."

    (b) Miss Pringle wore an oversized sweatshirt with pockets, baggy slacks, and a hideous pair of earth shoes. Arielle looked at Miss Pringle and sketched a pencil drawing of her on a blank notebook page-with arms like those bendy straws that little kids use and pencil-thin hair. . . . She began what had become a daily pattern of locking and unlocking that back door a dozen times in five minutes. Get out test tubes. Lock. Unlock. Bring out nitric acid. Lock. Unlock. Carry out five beakers. Lock. Unlock. All the while yap, yap, yapping about measurement and chemicals and formulas."

    Compare and/or contrast the characters of the two teachers, Mrs. Witherspoon and Miss Pringle. Discuss their effectiveness at teaching their subjects, as well as how they relate to students. Use specific examples from the book to support your statements.

  2. DESCRIPTIVE PAPER

    "The classroom windows--dull, yellowed, and streaked. The stacks of chemistry books on the floor-covers curled at the edges. The computers--humming and glowing with fuzzy printed text. A wastebasket--overflowing with paper and chip wrappers and dirty Kleenex. The sharp smell of orange peels and spilled chocolate milk-more trash. Desks-scuffed, scratched, and bent, never quite balanced on all four legs. The late winter sun-dull gold, trapped outside the locked windows. The painted concrete floor-criss-crossed with the shadows of dusty footprints. The periodic chart of the elements-creased, ripped, and memorized."

    Write a descriptive paper that uses sensory imagery. Describe a specific scene and bring it to life with your words. Use vivid verbs and powerful adjectives and adverbs as you write. Use as many of the senses as you can. (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste)

  3. "Eddie carried a freshly-sharpened yellow pencil in each hand. He didn't look scared. He took two steps forward.

    "Don't move!" Jack warned, aiming at Eddie.

    "You are the king of everything, Jack," Eddie said. He took two more steps. His voice was quiet, yet still had that gravelly quality. "I like your noise."

    Jack cocked his head. "Yeah," he said. "Noise."

    Eddie took one more slow, deliberate step. "Drums are my favorite," Eddie drawled.

    "Drums." Jack repeated. He seemed mesmerized.

    Eddie took the two pencils and began to play a rhythm on the back of the desk closest to him. "Flamadiddle, paradiddle, double-stroke, roll," Eddie chanted as he bopped the pencils. "Ratamacooey, ratamacooey, rimshot, bop!"

    "You're good," Jack said. He blinked rapidly. "Where'd you learn percussion?"

    "I used to be in a band," Eddie said, his voice even and slow. He never stopped his rhythmic tapping with the pencils."

    Write a narrative paper from the point of view of Eddie Tell what kind of life he must have lived to become the person that he is. Describe possible difficulties he might have had to over come, or hidden strengths he might have.

  4. EXPOSITORY PAPER

    (a) "Her room was any girl's dream-thick, rose-colored carpet, and a lighter pink paper on the walls. Her queen-sized bed was covered with a soft down pillows and comforters, and on her desk sat a television, a computer, a video game player, and dozens of CDs and DVDs. She glanced out through the dotted-Swiss pink curtains to see her mother drive away in the Mercedes that Chad had given her for Christmas...

    (b) Startled by loud coughing coming from across the room, Arielle woke up stiff and confused. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light in the room, she remembered where she was. On a thin mattress. Under a thinner blanket that smelled of Clorox. Close to her mother who slept in the bed beside her. At the Hillside Valley Shelter on Vine Street. She had seen no hillsides and no valleys since she and her mother had arrived three days ago. Only cement sidewalks. Outside, cars zoomed past, music from the apartments nearby played loudly, and police sirens shrieked most of the night."

    Write an expository (explanatory) paper that describes your room, any room in your house, your home, your neighborhood your school, or an area in your neighborhood. Use as many specifics as possible.

  5. PERSUASIVE PAPER

    "Arielle could hear Miss Singletary still speaking with excitement about the day's incidents. Arielle caught the names of Jack, Eddie, Kofi, and Jericho as she slowed to listen to the woman. "So what makes a hero, and who is the hero of the day?" the woman was asking the audience on the other side of the camera she faced. . . Arielle breathed deeply of the spring air that promised flowers as well as rain. She ducked under a ribbon of crime scene tape, sprinted toward the parking lot, then whispered the answer to the reporter's question into the soft breeze."

    Write a persuasive paper that answers the following question: "What makes a hero?" Be sure to use specifics to support your answer.

  6. POINT OF VIEW PAPER

    " Arielle tiptoed closer to the door.

    Chad said suddenly, "You should have met my father."

    "You hardly talk about your dad."

    "Army general. Tough. Hard. Proud. I felt his iron fist many nights." Chad's voice sounded tight and tense.

    I bet his dad was a real piece of work! Arielle thought, shaking her head.

    "That must have been rough for you as a kid," Michelle said gently. "But surely he had a soft side, too."

    Yeah, right--Chad the huggable baby. Hah!

    "Heroes don't hug."

    "Daddies do."

    Good one, Mom!

    "Perhaps. But fathers do not."

    "Oh Chad, in some ways I feel sorry for both of you."

    "I don't need your sympathy, Michelle."

    Then her mother asked, "Do you think Arielle is as strong as you were as a child?"

    Arielle leaned forward to hear better.

    "Arielle? She's a puff of smoke."

    So that's what he thinks of me? Not that she was surprised, but it still hurt to hear him talk about her like that.

    "If that's true, do you think maybe you're too hard on her?"

    Good lookin' out, Mom!

    "She needs discipline."

    "Give her a chance, Chad. She's just a kid."

    Thanks, Mom.

    "By the time I was her age, I had a straight A average and I'd been accepted at West Point."

    "She's not you."

    Read the passage above and explain how the point of view of the character who makes the observation influences the description. Discuss Arielle's point of view, her mother's point of view, and Chad's as well.

  7. POETRY

    Write a poem about one of the following topics:
    • The Hidden Hero
    • Guns and Violence
    • The Need for Friends
    • Fear and Destruction
    • Courage


  8. CHARACTER SKETCH PAPER

    "As she turned back around she saw Jack Krasinski on the other side of the room and instantly grinned. Kids called him Crazy Jack, and he loved it, even encouraged it. Tall and skinny and generally liked by everybody, Jack always wore bright, showy colors-like green neon shirts and red plaid pants. When Osrick dressed in wacky clothes, students laughed and made fun of him, but if Jack decided to wear pajamas to school, Arielle noticed, everybody thought it was really cool. She wondered why Jack could get away with it, but Osrick couldn't. Jack played in the school band-cymbals and drums-instruments that made maximum noise. The louder the better. Jack had once told her the racket made the voices in his head get quiet. She had no idea what he'd been talking about."

    Write a character sketch of a strong powerful or unusual person--a friend, a relative, a family member. Use strong verbs and adjectives, as well as sensory imagery.

  9. PERSONAL ESSAY

    " The pretty pink carpet remained, as well as the indentations where the bed and the chest of drawers had once stood. But Arielle's room, like the rest of the house, was completely bare. A few hangers dangled in the empty closet. Everything else was gone. . . . Arielle sniffed and said, "Can I borrow a tissue? He probably took the Kleenex box, too. With trembling fingers, Arielle punched in the number of her mother's job at the Delta desk. "Mom?" she cried. "You gotta come home--now. Chad took everything." She paused, listening to her mother's outcry. "Mom, he took every belt and bottle. My clothes, even my underwear. My books and pictures. All your stuff, too. The furniture. The food. Gone. Please hurry. I'm scared. . . .Kofi glanced into the empty hall and peeked into a couple of the other rooms. All were slick and bare. And Arielle was right. Even the toilet paper was gone.

    Write a personal essay that describes a special memory or object. Or on a particular loss in your life. Explain why it is meaningful to you. Be sure to include sensory imagery--sights, smells, touches, tastes, sounds.

  10. LITERARY ANALYSIS PAPER

    "The monster knew at once that nowhere on earth

    Had he met a man whose hands were stronger.

    The monster's mind was filled with fear . . .

    Horrible shrieks of pain and defeat,

    Tears torn out of Grendel's monstrous throat,

    Caught in the arms of the one man

    Who of all men on earth was the strongest."

    The passage above comes from the ancient story called Beowulf. The teacher in Just Another Hero uses this passage as she discusses the subject of heroism in class. Write what you think the author was saying in this passage about good and evil and how the lines in this quote apply to the themes of the novel.

The Jericho Trilogy


The Battle of Jericho

November Blues

Just Another Hero